A campus chapter of the largest Asian American fraternity in the U.S. was suspended for two years following an investigation that verified its dangerous initiation practices.
Authorities at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) found that Lambda Phi Epsilon forced recruits to perform knuckle push-ups, submerge in the ocean late at night and consume large amounts of alcohol.
After receiving anonymous reports, officials launched a probe on Sept. 28 and determined that current and former frat members maintained a hazing tradition.
“It really sucked in the moment, it was the hardest thing ever … but this is something I think everyone knows about. I know the cultural organizations haze way harder than any [Interfraternity Council] fraternity,” a witness told Mustang News.
Other recruits claimed that the initiation left them with bloodied knuckles, broken skin and sometimes noticeable scars.
Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier said that the chapter’s actions “violated the law and university policies and created unsafe conditions for new recruits and members.”
Hazing, as well as the failure to act to make it stop, are violations in Cal Poly’s Recognized Student Organizations Handbook.
Hazing is also illegal under Penal Code 245.6 in California and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to a year in county jail, or both.
Supporting the university’s findings, the national Lambda Phi Epsilon disaffiliated the Cal Poly chapter on Oct. 18 for a minimum of two years, or until all current members graduate or leave the university for any reason, whichever is longer.
According to The New York Times, Lambda Phi Epsilon recorded the most hazing incidents of all Asian American fraternities, resulting in three deaths in the last 13 years.
The organization released a statement confirming the disaffiliation:
“Following an investigation conducted by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, the university on Thursday withdrew recognition of the Lambda Phi Epsilon chapter on their campus after determining that the chapter was engaged in hazing. The Board of Directors of Lambda Phi Epsilon voted to withdraw the chapter’s charter a short time later.
“Hazing runs counter to the principles and values of Lambda Phi Epsilon and will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form. While the loss of a chapter is painful, the safety of our members and the larger community is paramount.”